I don’t get it.

Whenever housing is mentioned, a national programme for the building of council houses for rent, once again, is a very popular idea. So much so as to be widely considered a no-brainer. And it is, isn’t it? Proper public housing, that is, not houses owned by private developers and called ‘social’ to make it sound reasonable.

Housing supply is inadequate for the demand, by the numbers, the type and affordability – actually affordable, relative to wages. Prices are high. Deposits alone can be more than the total cost of the two-bed flat I bought in the mid-eighties. This market means rents are also high. Work is precarious, pay is too low and life’s basics are expensive. Anyway, we know this.

There are the usual and perfectly valid supply/demand concerns over such issues as negative equity, preservation of an older home-owning voter-base, protection of asset values, rising interest rates, the ‘freedom of the market’ and so on. But they should not be prohibitive: two wrongs don’t make a right and to sacrifice the young and the poor for the sakes of flawed socio-economic ideology and the selective protection of vested interests is still a dereliction of State responsibility. It is cruel and unnecessary.

Government borrowing is cheap. The merits of a government borrowing to invest in the things that Society needs has broad, authoritative consensus. But we know that, too.

If our government borrowed to build council houses to own and rent, whether directly or through permitting local authorities (I don’t know), the state/local authority would be the landlord. No only would people in them feel more secure which means less stress but the housing benefit bill would be smaller, having cut out the private profit bit and the rent paid by the majority would be a return on the investment, in perpetuity. It would be an investment that more than paid for itself. Win-win. I don’t get why this is not happening.

***

It didn’t take long for social housing to fall back off the agenda – Natalie Bloomer, Politics.co.uk

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Country down

Britain is living in permanent smog
The Blighty tail is wagging the dog
The Brexit yacht is running aground
But Remain is “talking the country down”?

They’re having a laugh: just look at the clues
In the options, reactions, events in the News
As our worldly repute is observed at the brink
And the scope of our influence rapidly shrinks

They are having a laugh: just look at the Budget
It’s like the Economy can’t bear to touch it
Best part of a decade, the pips have been squeezed
And now Brexit delivers a wasting disease

The Leavers are nothing with no one to blame
So it falls on the people who voted Remain
But look anywhere, everywhere, under the Crown
And Brexit is bringing the whole country down

***

”Faragism survived… Nothing the chancellor does in his budget can help with that ailment.” – Rafael Behr: Philip Hammond’s budget cannot erase the stain on the soul of his party

“We are seeing a shrivelling up of the British economy, a slump towards perpetual mediocrity.” – Ian Dunt: Budget 2017: Hammond paints a portrait of despair

Snake Oil Factory

I don’t hate Brexit voters. I know and love too many of them to imagine that all those who voted to leave must be automatically terrible people. I am sorry for all of us that they were so receptive to such a con. I can’t really even say that I actually hate the Brexiteers, beyond intense but fleeting emotional responses. They are gaslighters and can have my caustic contempt and bitter snark, with pleasure. I do hate Brexit, though, just in case you still weren’t sure.

A significant number of people have been coerced into acting against their better interests through a systematic glamouring. They have bought a giant vat of snake oil and many are more angry at the people who tell them that it is snake oil than at the manufacturers who have sold it to them. It’s so disheartening. I always thought the British people had a bit more nous than this.

But Britain is dominated by gaslighters and blind folk. A grey kind of magic plays with people’s justifiable angst, their natural hopes and fears and twists them into fantasy and superstition. Some of these charlatans have done this deliberately, knowing full well that they were peddling a scam from which they could personally benefit. Others have done this because they believe the hype of their own over-simplistic ideologies. And what do over-simplistic ideologies lead to? Distortion and irrationality; disingenuous narratives with inadequate and even dangerous solutions.

Britain feels as if she were breaking down, inexorably, as if no one will stop it; as though no one can. Worse, there are people who think they can play god at creative destruction and they actively welcome it. Disappointment and frustration have become daily constants. It’s tedious and exhausting, so much so that occasional bursts of righteous fury can bring as much cathartic relief as does a sense of humour.

The Brexit atmosphere is an all-prevailing fog of interminable, mind-blowing cynicism and ineptitude that has our country running simply to stand still. Britain is not ‘Great’; the Kingdom is not ‘United’. It is confused and miserable. Even if you are paying only a little attention, Brexit is going to overshadow everyone and everything for years to come and you surely cannot fail to feel at least uneasy at how it is unfolding, whether you are for Leave, Remain or Don’t Care (only absolute fools and those fortunate and selfish enough for it to make no difference don’t care).

It is not Remain’s fault that Brexit is collapsing under the weight of its own cognitive dissonance and does not know or agree on what to do. It is not Remain’s responsibility to come up with ways to get it out of the shitpit it is in, even though those who are able to are still trying. Not for the sake of the snake oil factory and its owners, of course but for the sake of the country. Brexit is a collective act of self-harm and this increasingly self-evident. It would be unpatriotic to say otherwise. Even less patriotic to nod along, saying nothing.

Hat-trick

Reputation is running aground
But Remain is “talking the country down”

Yesterday, Britain scored a hat-trick. Farewell global brand; hello reduction in status. They think it’s all over…

Amsterdam to host the European Medicines Agency after the UK leaves the EU: – “British pharmaceutical companies have been warning of the consequences of the move since before the referendum… could cause drugs shortages and put British patients at the back of the queue for new medicines, and at best fear the move will make the UK less attractive to drugs companies considering investing in the country.” – We have nothing, as yet, with which to replace it. (SkyNews)

Paris won the right to host the European Banking Authority after the UK leaves the European Union – “The financial sector accounts for about 12 percent of Britain’s GDP and it brings more tax than any other sector” (Politico) ~ [Meanwhile, looming large: 20 big banks add weight to a new clearing bid: “Clearing is an integral part of the financial services makeup here in London – it’s what we do best” – CityAM]

We lost our Judge at the International Court of Justice – “They see it as a retreat from the international stage – whatever the Brexiteers argue to the contrary – and these countries are filling the vacuum accordingly.” – (BBC)

***

Good for the winners. The poles of influence begin to shift rapidly. But we used to ‘punch above our weight’ and now we are just throwing windmills. Well done Brexit Britain.

meta-cake

The postmodern cakeist wants a deconstructed cake
Wants the cherries, jam and icing mixed and served on many plates
Wants the flour, fat and sugar separated from the eggs
Wants it packaged in a doggy bag as one humongous wedge.

”There will be no ambitious partnership without common ground on fair competition, state aid, tax-dumping, food safety, social and environmental standards.” – Michel Barnier, Sky News

”Britain will NOT get an ‘ambitious’ trade deal unless it obeys EU regulations, warns Barnier as he RULES OUT City firms being able to trade freely in the bloc after Brexit” – MailOnline

‘”Swallow the lot, and swallow it now”: Britain is, and was, deluded about its negotiating power with the EU’ – LSE

The Bog of Eternal Brexit

Brexiteers say – used to say, repeatedly, that leaving the EU would offer us a better future, quickly, easily and absolutely. It doesn’t because, apart from the fact that May’s Cabinet can’t even agree with itself, on any current world-trajectory, it doesn’t really exist. Not as a roaring success that will make all the divisive pain, the time and the cost worth the risk, anyway.

Every day brings more depressing confirmation of how Brexit is a term for the chasm between the promises people were falsely sold and the dire consequences of what they will actually get.

The options, though, are the same as were known before the vote: basically Norway, Canada and WTO. Not one is better than full EU membership. The consequences are the same as they were before the vote: the way we leave the EU will determine our relationships with the rest of the world; leave ‘well’ or leave badly, we will be a desperate little fish in a very big sea of sharks.

Remain was never about how marvellous the EU is but about how relatively bad all the Brexit options are and the dreadful calibre of the politicians to whom it has been entrusted. Remainers can tick their share of “left behind” boxes. Remainers, too, protest decades of socio-economic cynicism and ineptitude in Britain’s leaders. They also recognised that this was the result of perfectly rectifiable domestic government policies, not the EU, not immigrants, not the ECJ… Remain knew that to choose to stay was not to accept a flawed status quo but to participate, heartily, pushing for reforms in our interest. Those paying attention saw that this was possible, whatever Farage et al said.

Still, between its duplicitous architects à la Minford Mob & Legatum Institute and its fools’ puppets, the Lexiteers Stuart, Hoey and Field, Brexit is going strong. The right-wing Press is vociferous, the BBC and media, generally, are too slow and even supine; voters who did more than cross a box then promptly forget about it, are highly frustrated. Anyone whose motive is – on either side – the well-being of both individuals and the whole and is paying attention, is rightly very anxious.

Brexiteers keep making the same incorrect statements and asserting the same silly fantasies. Lay-Brexit voters keep parroting them. Journalists keep letting them. Remainers keep watch. And the clock keeps ticking.

Brexit stinks but Brexiteers can neither seem to bear the stark reality nor the responsibility for its toxic fallout. Whether everybody else can continue to bear the Brexiteers, remains to be seen.